General technique for connecting emotions with reality - Journal of Omnifarious
Sep. 6th, 2002
02:17 pm - General technique for connecting emotions with reality
I like emotions. They let me know I'm a human being and that I have some real connection to the events around me and the lives of others. But, sometimes emotional responses can be broken. They obscure reality and when you act on them, you've discovered you've done the wrong thing.
I want my emotional responses to be in harmony with my surroundings. I want my actions to naturally be the right thing to do. I want to live life such that I'm not always slamming my head against walls I've created for myself.
One technique for this is to, when you've discovered that some emotional response doesn't work, is to stand back whenever you feel that emotion, and think it through carefully and decide what to do.
But, I think sometimes it's really hard to think your way through a strong emotional response. All of your thoughts are colored and distorted by what you think you see. I think it's useful to have an objective analytical criteria for deciding something that you think of when your mind is clear. That can provide you with an anchor to cling to to prevent a broken response from initiating actions that only end up hurting you.
For example, I have a strong, irrational response to behavior I see as bullying or needlessly authoritarian. I need to develop a set of criteria for deciding exactly what I will and will not put up with in terms of that kind of behavior before I get into those kinds of situations. I also need to plan out my responses ahead of time. Over time, this will heal my broken response without completely ignoring it and allwing it to fester.
Sometimes responses are broken in different ways. Sometimes, for example, we can feel hurt or betrayed at a loved ones innocuous behavior because we feel that they will leave us or hurt us eventually, and it's just a matter of time. Sometimes these responses can be off the scale in an attempt to protect ourselves.
I think, in these cases, developing a set of objective criteria to measure our emotions against is good. "Have they hit me? Are they cutting me down verbally? Are they purposely hurting people close to me? Are they currently acting like they don't care about me at all? Are they stealing anything material from me?". I think a good, objective list with clear criteria that aren't open to a lot of interpretation is good for judging our response and deciding how we want to act on it.
Anyway, just random thoughts. Maybe they're obvious to many. I know I've done some of that myself without clearly thinking through what I was doing.